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Paul Groff

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Everything posted by Paul Groff

  1. A small scrap of sandpaper, various types will work, glued to a popsicle stick (or similar) is a cheap functional solution to remove solder on reeds that saves wear or even cleaning of finer tools. No matter how you remove soft solder, clean well and avoid inhaling the lead dust.
  2. Hi Peter, I have an interest in this model myself. I have a couple of examples with various types of damage including broken reeds or repitched in the past. My ultimate goal is to end up with one really well-playing restored example and also a second one that's completely original, complete, but unrestored as a record of their original build specs. So I'm interested in other examples as parts donors (maybe one will have the reedplates I need, buttons, etc) if priced well, or even if it can be found a really perfect unaltered example that's never been retuned, revalved, etc. Since yours would require expensive postage and you've already started restoring it, it's not a good fit for my needs. However, since you ask whether you got the description right, I think you should check whether the two sets of reeds are really as you say (quoting your auction listing): "This steel-reeded 20-button concertina appears to be in C/G. It has a single set of reeds for each button (20 reeds each side), all of which play both pushing & pulling the bellows. A second set of reeds can be introduced on both sides, using the slider button by the hand rest. This gives two notes one octave apart, for each button both pushing & pulling the bellows (giving a total of 40 reeds each side)." Every example of this model that I've seen in hand is *not* in octave voicing (LM or MH). Rather they are in MM celeste or tremolo voicing so the two reeds sounded together are not an octave apart. They are in the same octave but tuned slightly apart. To me your video seems to confirm that your concertina is also voiced MM. Good luck with the sale. To anyone else with one for sale, I'm interested in parts or unrestored examples, thanks! Best, PG
  3. Hi Ross, And I never suggested that you did. However, given the title of this topic, I think it's important to make clear that the concertina in question was *not* marked, nor represented, as a Jeffries. That was actually not explicit in your post above. As a general point: I think Geoff's dating work argues that the Crabb family firm was making concertinas with many design features that are considered "typical of Jeffries anglos" before, during, and after the period in which members of the Jeffries family were retailing similar ones. Thanks! PG
  4. Hi Olivia, I'm pretty busy with my current work as biology lecturer the past 20 years. Ross has a great tip for you with Bob Tedrow. Have fun with your concertina! PG
  5. Hi Ross, Because you don't make this explicit, I think it should be made crystal clear here that I never represented that concertina as a Jeffries. When selling it, I pointed out all those markings you mention, as well as the internal 4 digit identification number from the known Crabb 8000 (+) series. It was through and through a Crabb, and a very nice one that I really enjoyed playing, as have several other owners since you owned it. I think the correct spelling BTW is "Rushworth & Dreaper," well known music dealers on Islington (a street and district) in Liverpool, and I've also had Lachenals with their re-badging. Ironically Crabbs were located for many years on Liverpool Road in Islington (London). PG
  6. Hi Dino Dini. Paul Groff here. I started playing the concertina in 1985, when I was living in Wales for a year of my grad school. When I went back to the US (Berkeley California) I met a lot of other concertina players in the area and was convinced to started repairing concertinas, to the best of my ability and to fill the need. At that time there was no internet and there were few repair resources, and the accordion shops were often expensive if they would even work on conceertinas. I don't remember your concertina specifically but I did minor repairs on many of that type - inexpensive instruments made in Italy and with various labels including Bastari, Stagi, Silvagni, etc. I would have written my name inside not to brag about any magical repair accomplishment but to document that I'd worked on it so that I could verify at a later date if it was still under my 1 year repair warranty and thus eligible for free touch up work. For instruments in that range of price/quality it usually made sense to me to "get them working" cheaply for local owners, with the promise that I would also take care of any further problems arising in the next year. Sometimes a year of playing on an instrument like that was enough to convince a beginner to invest in a better quality instrument. As a personal note, in July 1990 I probably could only have worked for an hour a day at most on that instrument because I was down with systemic lyme disease for most of that year. I wasn't playing at that point or able to do much other work. Fortunately I recovered fully. Thanks for posting the photo and I hope you have a lot of fun with that concertina! Best, PG
  7. OK, I'll draw attention to the elephant in the room. The serial number (though Geoff Crabb doesn't use that term to describe the identification numbers that are typically found on Crabb concertinas like this) has been very specifically obscured, and not very artfully. The only reason to do such a thing is if the instrument was stolen and there was an intent to conceal the evidence of its legitimate ownership. I've been down this road many times before (first as a naive buyer, many many years ago, of a nice vintage Gibson guitar whose serial number I later discovered had been altered, and more recently as an appraiser of instruments). When buying used instruments for my shop, I was required by local ordinance to file a police report for each one that I purchased, with full records on the seller, in case the instrument was later found to have been stolen. Such "pawnshop laws" are common in the US (and often apply to any business that buys and resells used goods). I remember having a very nice man bring in a beautiful Aeola he had just bought, wondering why the external serial number had been defaced and wanting to date it. In that case I could show him the hidden Wheatstone serial number, but warned him that such knowledge could be a mixed blessing. And in fact there's another concertina out there that was stolen from me, 20 years ago, by a customer who never finished paying for it. . . In some places it is actually illegal to buy or sell any item whose identification number has been removed or altered in any way. That was the case in Berkeley California, where I bought the Gibson guitar, long before I had a business myself. * But it's also true that sometimes stolen instruments are recovered by the original owner, then re-sold. If that's the case you would want a lot of documentation. My best advice to you as potential buyer is 1) to research the history of this instrument in detail, 2) to take full information including a photo of ID and a signed bill of sale from the seller, if you buy it, and 3) to pay no more for this instrument than the scrap value of its parts, if you decide to go through with the purchase. At least under US law (which naturally I know best), "you can't obtain title [ownership] from a thief," meaning that a stolen item may be reclaimed by the last legitimate owner prior to the theft. If the concertina is located elsewhere, different laws may apply but similar ethical principles may be relevant. Good luck! PG * For example: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-537e.html
  8. I'd suggest this is a few decades into Jones' concertina production. Very similar instruments (flat metal ends with similar fretwork and lots of screws) but with more buttons are known. I have a 34 key BbF with very similar features that I guess is from the 1870s - 1890s. But I love yours even if it may not be one of Jones' earliest. I'm a fan of 22 key instruments anyway. Congratulations on an unusual concertina!
  9. So around 3 pounds, 7 oz or around 1.56 kg? That would put it a bit heavier than the 45 key Jeffries listed here: https://www.concertina.net/guide_weights.html Not unmanageable but as I thought, the weight might be noticed by many players if used as an instrument for fast dance music. Heavier than the 50 key Praed St Jeffries I've had, IIRC. But fast dance music isn't the only context in which a Jeffries sounds great! Absolutely it would be great if you can learn to use it with no mods in its present layout and pitch! That's certainly what I would do with it if I had it to work with. But if someone is someday tempted to modify it, as is often the case when an instrument of superb quality has been custom-built in a system that is out of the mainstream, it would be great if the conversion were reversible. In this case it would be terrible to lose those deep low notes and terrible to make modifications in those beautiful original reedpans. So a very expensive but very respectful path would be to get a top traditional-style builder to make a set of alternative reedpans. They could be made to fit the original F row and C row reeds, but in the current positions of the Ab and Bb row reeds, leaving the original Ab and Bb row reeds in the original reedpans. Then 40 more reeds (made to order ideally) would be swapped in and you'd have an instrument in "standard 30 key layout plus a row" in the gorgeous low keys of FCX, plus an extra inside row to be set up to the preferences of the player. This could be done to preserve not only the original sound of the instrument but its original pitch and temperament but made playable with a standard 30 key core layout in those very low keys, and allowing 100% reversibility to its original condition. None of that would be needed if you can adjust to the original custom-built system, and it's really great news for the future of this historic instrument that you are willing to try! PG
  10. Lovely one Chris, it's a custom-layout Praed St. Jeffries. Not the first I've seen. It might not fall into the "most desired" category for fast dance music, since those many large buttons (not to mention the action and reeds) are substantial. How heavy is it, and is it of typical size for a Jeffries 38 key? I think this unusual instrument deserves some careful thought about trade-offs between originality and conversion to a more standard layout, but surely has a great musical potential for the right player!
  11. Hi Stuart, A point to consider. Many of the Jeffries and Crabb anglos being played today have been re-worked into equal temperament. Where the original instruments may have had duplicate enharmonics (for example, separate reeds for D# and Eb in a C/G system instrument), these duplicate reeds are sometimes retuned to other notes. Specifically, the "typical modern" location for a low Bb (on a C/G instrument) was often originally the home of a reed to sound D# on the early Jeffries and Crabb anglos. Since Eb is right next door, also on the draw, if such an instrument is re-tuned to equal temperament that D# note is often retuned to a low C# draw or replaced with a low Bb. On the early Jeffries and Crabb anglos in original condition, that low Bb would typically only be found on anglos with more than 30 keys, and located on the draw on the index-finger C row extra button (paired with Bb press an octave higher). PG
  12. Thanks for posting this Geoff, but a friend in France tells me that this listing is not genuine.
  13. See attached, I hope it is understandable Crossed levers 31 button Crabb Anglo.doc Geoffrey Thanks a lot Geoffrey, that's very clear and understandable Adrian Hi Adrian, Geoff, and all, It's always a great honor to all readers (present and future) when Geoff takes the time to join these discussions! Thanks Geoff for all the invaluable information and wisdom you share! Just as an addendum to Geoff's contribution, I have seen 20th-century 31-key H. Crabb anglos with a different LH lever arrangement than shown in Geoff's drawing (and I know he has seen those as well). I looked for the forum discussion in which we talked about them, but didn't find that discussion. However, the search retrieved this article in which Geoff is quoted, so I know that he has seen this type of lever design also. Note the lack of overlapping levers and the serpentine curvature of one lever in particular: http://www.concertina.net/mws_inside_a_crabb.html In my opinion, this arrangement of levers (and the entire design of the action and the reedpans) may have been intended as a compromise with these goals in mind: 1) Bring up the volume of the notes sounded by the index finger button on the LH inside row (these would be D / E on a typical C/G anglo). 2) (possibly) Avoid crossed levers of the older design, that can lead to interferance when sounding the LH thumb button simultaneously with the top button of the outside row. In my own opinion, goal number 1 may have been most important. In some more common designs for the action of a 31-key anglo, the notes from that D/E button can be muted. Those are the smallest reeds on the left side of a typical 31-key anglo, and they are sometimes situated in a position in which their volume is muted further by the handrail, fretwork design, and player's hand. But the anglos designed like Mark Stayton's H. Crabb (and similar ones that I've seen) have a very bright, clear sound from the D/E button. However, 2) may have been a factor stimulating the layout of these non-overlapping lever designs. I can usually set up the action of a 31-key anglo that has crossed levers to avoid any lever interference, by careful attention to pad heights and damper thicknesses. But my own preferences are for lots of pad lift and lots of button travel, so that when I optimize the action of an old 31-key anglo for the sound and feel that I prefer, I do sometimes get a slight contact of levers when I use the thumb key simultaneously with the G#/Bb key (top button, outside row). PG
  14. Hi Adrian, Geoff, and all, It's always a great honor to all readers (present and future) when Geoff takes the time to join these discussions! Thanks Geoff for all the invaluable information and wisdom you share! Just as an addendum to Geoff's contribution, I have seen 20th-century 31-key H. Crabb anglos with a different LH lever arrangement than shown in Geoff's drawing (and I know he has seen those as well). I looked for the forum discussion in which we talked about them, but didn't find that discussion. However, the search retrieved this article in which Geoff is quoted, so I know that he has seen this type of lever design also. Note the lack of overlapping levers and the serpentine curvature of one lever in particular: http://www.concertina.net/mws_inside_a_crabb.html In my opinion, this arrangement of levers (and the entire design of the action and the reedpans) may have been intended as a compromise with these goals in mind: 1) Bring up the volume of the notes sounded by the index finger button on the LH inside row (these would be D / E on a typical C/G anglo). 2) (possibly) Avoid crossed levers of the older design, that can lead to interferance when sounding the LH thumb button simultaneously with the top button of the outside row. In my own opinion, goal number 1 may have been most important. In some more common designs for the action of a 31-key anglo, the notes from that D/E button can be muted. Those are the smallest reeds on the left side of a typical 31-key anglo, and they are sometimes situated in a position in which their volume is muted further by the handrail, fretwork design, and player's hand. But the anglos designed like Mark Stayton's H. Crabb (and similar ones that I've seen) have a very bright, clear sound from the D/E button. However, 2) may have been a factor stimulating the layout of these non-overlapping lever designs. I can usually set up the action of a 31-key anglo that has crossed levers to avoid any lever interference, by careful attention to pad heights and damper thicknesses. But my own preferences are for lots of pad lift and lots of button travel, so that when I optimize the action of an old 31-key anglo for the sound and feel that I prefer, I do sometimes get a slight contact of levers when I use the thumb key simultaneously with the G#/Bb key (top button, outside row). PG
  15. Both are definitely Jones, I've seen quite a few examples of the same model. Nothing about them is inconsistent with this model of Jones anglo -- the layout of button locations, left thumb buttons, fretwork, air valve, woods, bellows stampings, reed sizes, levers etc etc. They are a little big but they have a great sound when they're going well!
  16. I'd be interested in learning more about that octave-tuned D/A! This is a great system that I play myself. I had a nice octave tuned German D/A but passed it along to a student. Can Labuschagne make one with an extra button or two (21 or 22 buttons plus the air key)? Thanks, Paul Groff
  17. Well, not so cheap, quick & dirty, but the way I would want to see this done would be to commission a concertina maker to make a new set of reedpans, to match the pad/hole positions of the original action case, to fit the original bellows frames and with reedslots designed to fit the original reeds without altering the reedframes. You might have to start with two instruments as inventor mentioned. *If* a workable reedpan could be designed that meets those criteria, then with careful notes and photos of the original condition you could have a fully reversible conversion, comparable to the banjo players who have a new 5 string neck made for a tenor banjo, but keep all original parts. If the original reedpans and reedframes were not altered, you could then return the original concertina(s) to original configuration at a later date. Your converted duet would still have the original layout of button positions on the ends, which as inventor points out may not be ideal. You would also have the substantial cost of making reedpans. Your maker might have to be very clever to accommodate all the right sizes of reeds in chambers positioned in the right places, to lie under the padholes for the appropriate buttons. But there are old and new tricks in laying out reedpans -- for example, as seen by the Dippers' innovative designs and also those that the early Jones instruments used in setting parallel reed chambers on a diagonal for the left side. This is just a speculation. But if I wanted a Hayden duet, and if I wanted to benefit in an ethical way from the quality -- and the parts value -- that are latent in the many underpriced unrestored unpopular duet system concertinas . . . this would be the first strategy that I would try. PG
  18. From the label, this concertina may have accompanied Scates (or been sent to him) during his first visit to Ireland in 1850, so it appears to be among very few concertinas with evidence of such an early arrival in Ireland. Somewhere in storage I have a Scates english with the same label, but a later serial number and much different fretwork, similar to some Wheatstones. Mine has Scates' own annotations and signature inside in several places. Mine also has ivory buttons, as did many of the very early english concertinas from the 19th century. It's great that this very historic concertina is for sale in Ireland, and I hope a serious student, collector, or museum is able to purchase it and retain it there -- especially since transporting ivory across international borders, or even possessing it, has become increasingly restricted. PG
  19. Hi Gary, Thanks for reprising that great photo. It was published years ago in one of the concertina magazines . . . but haven't you guys also seen the film footage? Click on the link, play the video (evidently no charge to stream), and watch especially from 00:26. Too bad it's silent. http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675041811_Armistice-Day_United-States-flags_huge-crowd_musical-instruments PG
  20. "Viva" the Crabb Victor . . . vs the Vauxhall Victor or Vauxhall Viva for that matter?
  21. Hi Gary, Apologies for bringing up such an old thread. Possibly your questions from 2004 have been answered. However, I'm currently researching Louis Miller and may have some relevant information for you about him, if still of interest. Do you still have the concertinas? First, here's a (poorly) digitized reference on the early years of the musical instrument trades in San Francisco: http://www.archive.org/stream/musicaltrade185000unit/musicaltrade185000unit_djvu.txt Louis Miller is discussed under accordions (which he manufactured; the dates are usually given as ca.1883 - 1917). In that paper, you'll see a quote from the San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 12, 1898, which reads in part: "Owing to the weight of a concert accordion it is a difficult instrument for a lady to manipulate and he is now planning a lady's concertina with a perfect chromatic scale." As you know, in the mid-late 1800s there were many different free-reed keyboard designs invented, many motivated by this same desire to increase chromaticism in a small instrument. Concertinas were known in San Francisco of course, including english-made instruments. Miller seems to have been preceded in San Francisco as an accordion maker by C. C. Keene, who is said to have made concertinas, flutinas, accordions, etc. from the 1860s. In the 1980s, I found examples of nice London concertinas from 1850 - 1870s, surfacing in San Francisco after having been there for many decades, and concertinas are known with shop labels specifying San Francisco addresses that disappeared with the 1906 earthquake. When I lived in Berkeley in the 1980s, one of my concertina students had an ancient "concertina foot bass" that had been made in San Francisco around the turn of the century, but I don't recall if it was made by Miller or another shop. BTW, I have several successive addresses for Miller now, subsequent to the one he wrote in the concertinas you mention. But the 1906 earthquake and fire drastically changed the map of the city, long before the changes Jim noticed in his own lifetime. At any rate, it's great to have your documentation that Louis Miller worked on (and possibly ?? experimented with the layout of ) English-made concertinas in the late 1890s. Later, ca 1902 - 1906, he seems to have made a series of interesting small accordions such as those discussed here (note that you may need to register and login to melodeon.net to see all the photos posted): http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,5536 http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,5706.msg171157.html#msg171157 I'll be developing a database of Miller's instruments (often dated internally), their specifications and addresses, and photos where available. It might be good to include instruments that he repaired and modified as well. Thanks for any insights that you (or others) can add. Edited to add: see this new thread on Louis Miller's accordions (mostly): http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,14968.0.html Paul Groff Miami, Florida, USA groffco at gmail dot com
  22. Hi Stuart, Great stuff. Thanks again for your work with the concertina. Paul Groff
  23. Now we're talking! An excellent paper, and properly focused. Leaving aside various minor issues that could be disputed, I'd like to point out two great virtues of this work. 1) Documented history 2) A very broad understanding of different options for tuning and tempering the scales of fixed-pitch musical instruments. There are more tunings in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in the philosophy of most concertina players. Some of the old tunings (despite being perceived by many today as "out of tune according to my meter or my ear" ) were very consciously chosen to enable powerful musical effects if properly employed. Jim, years ago I remember having to convince you that the duplicate keys for D#/Eb and G#/Ab were originally included in what became the standard keyboard of the english concertina *because those duplicate keys were intended to sound reeds tuned to different pitches.* That idea was not original to me of course; I was reading about Wheatstone's 14-tone meantone scale in Montague and other 20th century works at the same time I was looking at concertinas with original tuning. Now that concept to understand the english concertina keyboard is a commonplace in discussions by modern amateurs and I'm reading concertina players and tuners throw around the names of mean-tone temperaments. But I hope Gawboy's article will help players and students of the instrument understand that there's more to concertina tuning beyond equal temperament and some familiar variations of mean-tone. The conception of the concertina pioneers (early inventors, improvers, and tuners) went far beyond superimposing one or another standard scale on a new kind of noisemaker. They were striving for new options that the new instrument might allow -- through different experiments in compromising layout, button number, size, many variables of sound production and assigning pitches -- all with a goal toward flexible, beautiful, and powerful sounds (especially harmonized sounds). PG
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